Donors Pledge $9.7B for Global Fund at Berlin Conference
Governments and private donors on Thursday pledged $9.7 billion to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at a conference in Berlin, Germany, the New York Times reports (McNeil, New York Times, 9/28). The Global Fund said it hoped to raise about $8 billion at the conference, although it will need between $12 billion and $18 billion to fund its existing programs and launch new ones between 2008 and 2010, according to Global Fund spokesperson Jon Liden (GlobalHealthReporting.org, 9/26).
Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary-general and conference chair, said the $9.7 billion in pledges includes "conservative" projections from Canada, Japan and the U.S. because the budgetary process prevents those countries from making pledges beyond one year, Reuters Africa reports. "These countries have indicated they will increase their contributions," Annan said (Chambers, Reuters Africa, 9/27).
The U.S. committed to maintain its current contribution level, which would amount to $2.2 billion over three years, until lawmakers pass a new budget, the Times reports. Japan plans to announce its pledge -- which would be $184 million or more -- when it hosts the Group of Eight industrialized nations 2008 summit (New York Times, 9/28). Canada has not released a pledge but is expected to give $375 million, the Associated Press reports (Froehlich, Associated Press, 9/27).
At the conference, Germany said it would give 600 million euros, or about $850 million. Spain contributed 424 million euros, or about $600 million, which is almost triple its current contribution levels, AFP/Google.com reports (AFP/Google.com, 9/27). Alexander Downer, Australia's foreign minister, said his country would contribute 93 million Australian dollars, or about $82 million, to the fund programs through 2009 (AAP/West Australian, 9/27). According to Annan, France pledged $1.7 billion, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $300 million.
Other contributors included China with $6 million, India with $7 million, Italy with $551 million, the Netherlands with $325 million, Norway with $240 million and Russia with $217 million. "Some countries cannot pledge or cannot pledge fully," Annan said, adding that he expects pledges to "go up considerably" (Associated Press, 9/27).
Annan said, "This is a good day for global health, for millions of poor people who are affected" by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. He added that another meeting that aims to bring total pledges to $12 billion to $18 billion would take place in early 2009.
According to Reuters Africa, some global health advocates said the pledges fell short of the Global Fund's long-term needs. "We were promised a war chest to fight three diseases but what we have got today demonstrates a weakening of nerve," Steve Cockburn of the Stop AIDS Campaign said. He added that the Global Fund was promised funding would triple in order to expand its programs but the amount donated is only enough to continue existing projects. Oliver Buston, European director of DATA, said that "pledges beyond 2008 don't yet reflect" that HIV/AIDS "infection rates are still rising fast, especially in Africa" (Reuters Africa, 9/27).